The following is a response from Highway Patrol spokesman Sid Gaulden concerning a memo that appears to show troopers following a quota system:
We do not have a quota system. Do we have goals and expectations for our troopers? Absolutely, and we are unapologetic for that. Setting goals for a trooper is no different than a factory setting goals for a line worker except we're in the business of saving lives. So, yes! We take our goals very seriously as I am sure the motoring public fully expects us to do.
The Highway Patrol is comprised of seven geographic Troops, and four Troops that serve in a support function. When developing a plan of enforcement, each Troop looks at a number of variables such as population, highway travel, interstate/roadway systems running through that Troop, fatalities, collisions, and fatality/collision causations. From that information, the commanders formulate an enforcement plan. A portion of that plan involves setting goals to keep troopers motivated and working to achieve those goals, which in each and every case boils down to a life saved.
South Carolina ranks 3rd in the nation for fatalities, and 3rd in the nation for fatal DUI collisions according to the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. People are dying on South Carolina roadways primarily because of speed, driving under the influence and lack of restraint usage. The goal of this administration has been to place every effort and resource toward preventing those fatalities.
Additionally, we closely monitor and rely on statistics, which help guide how best to allocate limited resources. If you look at our statistics, it's obvious that setting appropriate and attainable goals has paid off in lives saved. During the 2010 fiscal year, the Highway Patrol made over 15,445 DUI arrests. This is a 21 percent increase over the previous year. In 2005, the state's safety belt usage rate was 69.7 percent. In June 2010, the state's overall seat belt usage rate was 85.4 percent, which is a nearly four percentage point increase from the 2009 statewide seat belt usage rate of 81.5 percent. This is the first time the state's seat belt usage rate equaled the national average of 85 percent. Since 2007, traffic fatalities have dropped significantly – from 1,077 in 2007 to 810 in 2010, a reduction of 25 percent during this four-year period. It should also be noted that 2007 is the fourth worst year on record for traffic deaths, while 2010 recorded the fewest number of traffic deaths since 1982. These successes came during a time when manpower was down. We had 953 troopers in 2008 and due to budget and attrition rates, we now have 780 troopers.
How did fatalities remain stable or decrease during that time?